Newsflash: SAF and Aston Villa partner for FIFA challenge, Women in Esports announces new chair, esports move for Man United manager Solskjaer

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Here’s our latest weekly Newsflash roundup, where we cover a host of esports and gaming news in an informal, bitesize nature for you to digest.

SAF and Aston Villa launch ‘Take on a pro’ FIFA challenge

FIFA gaming community Serious About FIFA (SAF) has teamed up with Premier League football club Aston Villa for a new three-part FIFA challenge.

‘Take on a Pro’, the first part, gave gamers the chance to play against Aston Villa’s ePremier League pro player and SAF Esports representative Cameron Willey.

There’s more info on the other parts in this post on the Aston Villa website.

BLAST Rising returns for second year – could UK see more success following Endpoint’s strong showing in 2020?

BLAST Rising returns next month from May 3rd to 23rd, after making its debut last year. It will give up-and-coming CSGO teams outside the world’s elite a chance to compete for a $30,000 prize pool. 

The online tournament will expand to feature 24 teams from across Europe competing in 52 best-of-threes – meaning viewers will have 18 days and around 150 hours of action to sink their teeth into. 

Invited teams haven’t been confirmed just yet, but it’s likely a UK team will feature following Endpoint’s strong showing last year. Endpoint came second and went on to feature in the main BLAST Premier events in the Fall and Spring Showdown. Not to mention Endpoint taking part in the ESL Pro League.

Women in Esports announces new chair, 2021 tournament schedule and voluntary positions

British Esports Association’s diversity initiative Women in Esports has announced its new chairperson, Natacha Jones, creative director at NUEL.

Natacha commented: “I’m grateful for this opportunity and I’m really looking forward to working with the rest of the committee and members to drive positive change in esports!”

There’s more info on the British Esports website.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer moves into esports with investment 

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and sports agent Jim Solbakken have signed an agreement to become major owners of Norwegian esport company Ulti Agency.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has acquired 12.5% of the company through his company Grip Management AS. The same applies for the international football agent Jim Solbakken, who is acquiring 12.5% through his company Sir Solution AS.

Ulti Agency was established in the middle of the pandemic and has only been operating for a little over half a year. The agency is managing and representing esports talents worldwide, using a similar model to football. It is also providing businesses with marketing advise and branding strategies.

“Esports have become bigger than anyone would have dared to predict just a few years ago. It spreads the joy of sports worldwide. That is exciting, and Ulti Agency is a company with big plans. They’re all about seeing the players and giving them a chance”, saidSolskjaer.

Alpine Esports launch 2021 campaign with French/UK link

Alpine Esports Team officially launched its 2021 campaign this month to compete in the F1 Esports Pro Championship. The team, in partnership with Sim racing experts Race Clutch, represent Alpine’s first official venture into sim racing.

The team is both French and English – a joint venture between Alpine’s factory in Oxford and Viry (France). The F1 Esports Series is also normally hosted at the Gfinity Arena in London, but is of course online-only this season.

There’s more info on the Alpine website.

Formula 1 announces first female only competition – the F1 Esports Series Women’s Wildcard

Formula 1 has today announced plans for the F1 Esports Series Women’s Wildcard, a female-only qualification route into the Pro Exhibition, where F1 teams will be scouting talent to add to their rosters for this year’s Pro Championship, which will start in the autumn.

The Women’s Wildcard will be open to female competitors only, where drivers will compete to set the fastest lap times on the official F1 2020 video game, developed by Codemasters, across a one-week window in early May (3rd to 9th).

The participant who sets the fastest time will be invited to take part in the Pro Exhibition later that month, an online combine where the next generation of Esports drivers will showcase their talents in a series of in game assessments, testing their abilities for the ten F1 Esports teams to assess and potentially choose for their Pro Championship rosters.

The Pro Exhibition show featuring the Women’s Wildcard qualifier will be broadcast on Thursday May 27th on the official Formula 1 YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, Huya (China) channels.

London agency Fuse launches new service targeting esports

London-based agency Fuse, part of the Omnicom Media Group, has launched a new service, Fuse Ignite, designed to ‘enhance the commercial capabilities’ of rights holders in sport, entertainment, esports and lifestyle.

Fuse Ignite a rights holder consultancy service, but it does not sell on behalf of rights holders.

Fuse’s head of strategy, data & insights, Alex Charkham, said: “We know that there is still a challenge for non-endemic brands to get approval on investing long-term into esports so we want to help rights holders within this space to create more compelling and credible investment opportunities.

“The rise of esports has disrupted our industry and provided some really viable alternatives to sport and music in particular. We believe we can use our understanding of what brands want to ensure rights holders are capitalising on this growth opportunity.”

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